Don’t get sidelined by the common cold
February 16, 2012
Every year, along with the freezing temperatures and icy roads comes another nuisance: the common cold. Often, you’ll go to bed feeling just fine and wake up the next morning wanting to drink the entire Atlantic Ocean. Usually colds only last about a week, but for students they can be especially debilitating.
We are left with two options: suffer through sickness at school and risk spreading germs to others or stay at home to get well, only to come back to a mountain of makeup work. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to take precautions to avoid the cold at all costs.
Wash your hands: It seems obvious, but constant hand washing is the absolute best way to prevent getting sick. In school, the shared keyboards are a hotbed for germs so make sure to frequently use hand sanitizer when typing. And don’t cough or sneeze into your hands!
Hydrate: When you have a cold, your body becomes very dehydrated. Sore throats are cured through re-hydrating the body, so make sure to drink a minimum of about four water bottles throughout the day. Hot chamomile tea has a soothing effect on the throat as well, so drink that in the morning and before bed.
Don’t touch your face: Cold and flu viruses enter our bodies through the eyes, nose and mouth, so when germy hands get close to our faces, we get sick. If you have an itch you absolutely must scratch, use the back of your hand. It carries fewer germs than the palms.
Take it easy: If you’re really sick, stay at home. It’s not worth infecting others and over-exerting your body just to avoid make-up work. Stress will make the cold last longer because it weakens the immune system. Also note that smoking and alcohol consumption suppress the immune system as well as dehydrate the body, so these already unhealthy activities will only worsen your cold.
Avoid these places: If you do decide to come to school, beware of these especially dangerous germ-infested offenders: underneath desks (you shouldn’t touch here anyway), water fountains, computer keyboards, door handles, lockers, cafeteria tables, and vending machines
If your symptoms last longer than normal (about three to five days) it might not be a cold you’re suffering from. Strep throat is a bacterial infection (as opposed to the cold, which is viral) characterized by a very sore throat. Other symptoms that signal strep are a high fever, painful swallowing, swollen tonsils, red skin rash, and white spots in the back of the throat. Strep is contagious and should be treated with antibiotics before it spreads to others or the rest of the body.
This winter, do your best to stay well. A good diet and exercise routine are natural, effective ways to keep your body strong in order to ward off infection. If you do come down with the cold, as many do, take good care of yourself so you can make a speedy recovery.